Benefits of Massage Therapy for Hospice Patients
Licensed Massage Therapy is among the professional healthcare services available through Tomah Health’s Hospice Touch program. Massage Therapy rounds out our holistic approach to end of life care. We provide care of the mind, body and spirit for the individual. Massage Therapy is provided wherever the patient is residing and services can be added or removed at any time.
Massage Therapy provides several valuable benefits for Hospice patients, including; reducing pain, facilitating relaxation, improving sleep and reducing anxiety to name a few. The primary goal is that the patient feels safe and comfortable. Medical therapies used to treat disease or relieve pain prior to entering Hospice often take a toll on Hospice patients. Massage Therapy is a gentle way to address some of that stress.
Hospice massage looks very different than traditional Massage Therapy. Many patients who enter Hospice are already in a fragile, vulnerable state where traditional Massage Therapy is no longer appropriate. With Hospice massage, pain reduction and emotional peace can be achieved with soft pressures and slow, gentle kneading. Also, caress and focused touch, which is simply placing hands on the body without movement, are very effective in the Hospice setting.
Additional techniques may include mindful breath, essential oils and meditation/visualization. Massage Therapy is done in a variety of settings, including a standard chair/bed, recliner or hospital bed. Patients can be dressed in street clothes or pajamas, depending on their preference. If the patient sleeps frequently, that’s okay, too. The Massage Therapist will awaken the patient enough to get permission for the session and to ask about any present pain.
The benefits of massage are observable and measurable. In fact, several studies conclude touch therapy is a vital piece in health and wellbeing. A 2014 study on integrating Massage Therapy in Palliative Care settings found statistically significant reductions in pain, anxiety, relaxation and inner peace for patients. Massage Therapy decreases both pain intensity and anxiety and patients experience a relaxation response. This relaxed state creates a space for the patient to release anxiety, improve sleep and supports the ability to be in the present moment.
This type of relaxation may also help patients find the inner strength to cope with what lies ahead. For patients nearing the end of life who are experiencing loneliness, fear or depression, the undivided attention of Massage Therapy is soothing. Massage Therapists are one of the many Hospice team members serving the patient by making each day comfortable and contributing to feelings of being loved and cared for as a person.